The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

September 17, 2012

Joplin parents, administrators discuss new grading system at East Middle School

— An informational meeting Monday night on a new grading system at East Middle School drew about 40 people — parents, teachers and members of the school board — who wanted to learn more about how the system works.

The system, a pilot project for the Joplin district called standards-based grading, does away with letter grades and the traditional point-based system on which those letter grades are based.

Although it’s not fully implemented across the school, some students at East Middle School are given assessments in multiple areas, rather than receiving one letter grade in one broad subject. Some teachers at East began using the grading method this year, including for all seventh-grade classes, and use ratings of Exceeding, Met, Emerging, Not Met and No Evidence to assess their students’ understanding of specific material, course objectives or behaviors.

Jason Weaver, assistant principal at East, provided an hourlong presentation of the advantages of the standards-based system, which he said he used when he taught history at the middle school.

“Standards-based grading stops giving one grade for a class and starts breaking it down by individual skills within a class, and lets you know how your student is doing with each skill,” he said.

There are numerous impacts of the system on student learning, many of which East teachers have observed in their classrooms, Weaver said. By assessing individual skills, teachers can provide parents with a more accurate reflection not only of whether their child is learning the material, but also whether their child has appropriate behaviors, such as turning in assignments on time.

It also benefits students, who are given a method to identify their strengths and weaknesses in a course, he said. That type of specific feedback has been shown to be the “most powerful strategy” in motivating and encouraging students and increasing their achievement, he said.

“We’d be fools not to grab hold of something that has that kind of impact for our kids,” he said.

During an open forum following Weaver’s presentation, many parents asked questions, voiced their concerns or highlighted what they liked about the system.

Leigh Biastock, who has a sixth-grader and a seventh-grader at East, said she is “very much” OK with standards-based grading. Her children’s previous school, in the Blue Valley, Kan., district, used a similar grading system, she said.

“I think our children will be better motivated” under the standards-based system, she said during the forum. “Both my children are motivated differently, and I think this will help them. This will let them know what they need to do.”

After the meeting, Biastock, who with her family moved to Joplin last spring, acknowledged that getting used to the system in her children’s previous district had been “aggravating,” having been used to a more traditional method.

“But it worked for our children; that’s the end result,” she said. “They’re responsible for their work, and there’s accountability.”

Nicole Newcomb, the mother of an East seventh-grader, said she attended the meeting to learn more about the system, which had confused her as she tried to understand her son’s assessments as they were posted in an online gradebook.

“I think this has tons of potential,” she said during the meeting. When asked afterward to elaborate, she said, “You can explore different aspects of their grade so they can know where they need to improve.”

Kelli Owen, who has a seventh-grader at East, said that perhaps the biggest hurdle to accepting the system is that it’s different. She said she likes that the system can tell parents specifically what their child needs to work on.

But her concern, she said, is that students could be unprepared to revert back to the traditional system of letter grades when they reach high school. She also questioned whether the standards-based system helps children understand real-world penalties of not completing work or missing deadlines.

“Are the kids going to understand that transition that you don’t get to do things over (in real life)?” she asked.

Randy Steele, president of the school board, said at the meeting that the board has not discussed implementing the system at the high school.

Other schools

Students at McKinley and Kelsey Norman elementary schools are also graded using a standards-based system instead of a traditional system based on letter grades.

Text Only
Local News
  • Pension funding improving, actuary reports

    An extra $1 million contribution by the city of Joplin last year to the Police and Firemen’s Pension Fund boosted the funding ratio of the plan by 2 percent, the plan’s actuary told the board Thursday morning.

    April 17, 2014

  • Special counsel to be appointed in ethics complaint against Neosho council members

    The Neosho Ethics Board on Wednesday voted to ask the City Council to appoint a special counsel to provide legal advice to the board’s remaining two members as they investigate a complaint against two members of the council.

    April 17, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Will new Earth-like planet have better cable offerings?

    When I read that astronomers have discovered the most Earth-like planet yet, I had a couple of deep scientific questions. First: What’s the Wi-Fi like? And: Are their TV channels better than ours? Hey, I didn’t get an “Incomplete” in college astronomy for nothing.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Christian ministry plans Missouri camp expansion

    A nondenominational Christian ministry is planning a $21.5 million expansion on land it owns near Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri, with a goal of offering gatherings beyond the traditional summer camps.

    April 17, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 041714 Treble Makers.jpg Carl Junction ‘Treble Makers’ to sing at Springfield Cardinals’ stadium

    Next month, 75 Carl Junction sixth-grade students will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Hammons Field before a Springfield Cardinals game. And with more than 600 parents, family members and other residents planning to attend, the May 3 event has been dubbed “Carl Junction Day.”

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Public hearing set on posed TIF district

    Financial details of a proposed new tax increment financing district for the Silver Creek Galleria area will be discussed in detail at an April 28 public hearing, members of the city’s TIF Commission were told Thursday. Chris Williams, a TIF attorney representing the city of Joplin, told the panel the Thursday meeting was intended to walk commissioners through the public hearing steps.

    April 17, 2014

  • Volunteer projects spark two bills in Jefferson City

    Bills moving through the Missouri House and Senate were inspired by a volunteer project in Carl Junction last year that stalled over a question of whether those volunteers had to be paid prevailing wage under Missouri law. “This bill is very simple. All it says is if someone is a volunteer, they won’t be forced to be paid prevailing wage,” state Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, told lawmakers during a hearing on his bill last week.

    April 17, 2014

  • Chairman of Neosho Ethics Board resigns

    The chairman of the Neosho Ethics Board unexpectedly resigned on Thursday as the board investigates a complaint against Neosho City Council members David Ruth and Steve Hart.

    April 17, 2014

  • CWEP receives top honor from national power group

    The Carthage Water and Electric Plant has received the top award for reliable electrical service from the American Public Power Association.

    April 17, 2014

Must Read


Would you use a community safe room when the area is under a tornado warning?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter